Thanksgiving Is Ruined

The Personal is Political. The Political is Personal.

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June 02, 2009
a hat-trick of FAIL

By the standards of the nonEuclidean geometries of TiR's warped intellectual universe, Žižek achieves some kind of namedropping trifecta, in the realm of (what we could call) "epic fail theory," with the following paragraph, taken from a recent paper here:

This is Lenin at his Beckettian best, foreshadowing the line from Worstward Ho: 'Try again. Fail again. Fail better.' His conclusion—to begin from the beginning—makes it clear that he is not talking about merely slowing down and fortifying what has already been achieved, but about descending back to the starting point: one should begin from the beginning, not from the place that one succeeded in reaching in the previous effort. In Kierkegaard's terms, a revolutionary process is not a gradual progress but a repetitive movement, a movement of repeating the beginning, again and again.
from "How to Begin from the Beginning," NLR 57, May-June 2009

Of course, just when we think the melody is about to get interesting, the Ž-man, being himself, meanderingly modulates away from the above attention-grabbing trichord of proper names.


Oh really? To whom?

Ž's essay has been much     discussed, but, from what TiR has seen, no one has discussed or even noticed the paragraph that most jumped right out at us.

So what? Who cares? What does this prove?

Perhaps not much more than that others are more concerned, than are "we," with the question of praxis, politics or at least practical activity.

For the thumb-sucking, invented character who performs the (pointless) exercise of this blog, the question of "what is to be done?" most often can be -- or necessarily only can be -- answered in one way:

Surf more pointless web pages!]

A pity. However, naturally Žižek's job is not to figure out one possible cluster of TiR's recurring preoccupations, especially when even we cannot fix, figure out or articulate them for ourselves.

Suffice to say that some of the following, TiR thinks, could be worthy blind alleys to experimentally stagger down, by way of ludicrous potential contributions to the burgeoning field of "FAIL studies" (or not):

the increasing consensus that any participant in or observer of the 21st century global conversation should be literate in, hip to and ever-mindful of the phenomenon of Fail;

related is the axiom that the proper & deserved response to any instance of Fail is ritualized & merciless derision,     mockery and public shaming, with the maximal assumption that all Fail is foreseeable, preventable and always to be avoided, unforgiveable -- and feared;

the potential value, in contrast, of the concept of the "interesting" or at least educational failure;

the related concept of the deliberate failure, or at least the semi-deliberate failure (the honest experiment);

value of the possibilities of openness to or nonjudgmental humility before failure, scientific method, testable hypotheses, incremental knowledge, the unforeseeable, the non-mockable?

dangers of the attitude "'Honor thy error as a hidden intention'? Ha! epic lulz!"

the "fail better" approach's pedagogical underpinning: "repetition" notwithstanding, you can't fail, Fail or "begin again" the same way ever exactly;

"crisis" as failure;

failure as disconnect; failure as "short-circuit" (Rancière);

failure as engagement with boundaries, borders, limit cases and margins;

ideology as mimetic failure (Brecht,     Althusser);

failure as a social relation;

the ethical limits on deliberate, experimental failure: the reciprocally unforeseen tragedy of failure, as a rupture that reveals forms of previously unrecognized, now disappointed or shattered mutual reliance or expectation between parties;

this blog post as Epic Fail: expectations that TiR did not realize it had for this blog post -- or should have had -- until it is too late, posted, and rendered permanently ludicrous -- and mockable!